Perhaps I’m a late developer? However, it has only been recently that I feel that I’ve become fully self-aware. Even the way I’ve written that sentence is reflective of this new understanding. For I tend towards emotion, sensing a situation before thinking about it. It is rare that I’ll react on gut instinct.

My journey of self-discovery was prompted by some tough times, triggered when I moved from marketing to operations. Despite my best efforts, it didn’t go well and I eventually left corporate life; asking “What happened?” and feeling bitter disappointment.

I now realise I was well equipped professionally but poorly prepared emotionally for new people in new situations. I wasn’t really open to growth. Not being fully self-aware, I did not appreciate my learning and interaction style and its impact on those around me. I wasn’t equipped to adapt to personalities, so didn’t engage well enough with others and learn effectively from them, to enable me to inspire them into delivering the plan.

What I’ve learned now is that, I have a predisposition to process information emotionally. Then I think about it and finally call on my gut instinct. It isn’t wildly spread but there’s enough of a weighting (40:25) between the heart and gut to impact on how I interact and others react to me.

It was first highlighted to me by a fantastic coach and mentor, from the angle of mind-set. He drew a Boston box and explained that marketing directors were generally top right and operations directors bottom left; diametrically opposed.

Marketing being the world of conceptual and emotional and operations, executional and empirical. “What that means in practice, Alan,” he explained, is that the default position for operations is executional. So, you look at the same thing through a different lens and seek a different outcome. Whether by nature or training, operators tend to be processing and interacting on experience (gut) or information (mind).

When together in conversation one of you is speculating on what might work and the other is trying to plan its implementation. Unless either of the parties frames the conversation differently both of you assume your default position and conflict and misunderstanding can ensue. One left thinking, “Don’t bring me an idea, bring me a plan” and the other feeling “If we could only get away from the detail for a minute we might be able to innovate something!”.

As a heart lead person, I can misread thinking or gut instinct as lack of engagement. Reacting with greater and greater animation and passion to make the point. That can be off putting for some who process differently.

What I’ve learnt is that reacting based on previous experience or working through the challenge logically isn’t wrong, it’s just different from me. Being more aware, and adapting my style to complement another person makes for a better experience for everyone and it can be the path to real engagement and mutual learning.

I’m no psychologist, as it was easier to marry one than study it. However, finding a very simple matrix of mind, heart and gut has been useful in helping me to appreciate how I interact with people and process information to learn.

So, if I we did meet, you can expect me to be talkative, enthusiastic and open, if I’m quiet, I’m just thinking. As for the gut instinct? We’ll only know at the time.

I wonder if you know your default position? And whether I could work it out whether you first engage with your heart, your mind or your gut instinct?

If my approach to you changes, perhaps I’ve worked you out and realised you appreciate less heart and more mind to best engage and learn?


 Alan Beesley is an Agnentis Partner. We help small and medium business owner’s shape the future direction of their company to help you achieve your personal and professional vision. We do this through building a trusted partnership based upon core values and a whole person perspective. We then help you create the environment to achieve the result through advice, strategy and operational implementation.